Navy Men's Lacrosse Opens 2013 Season Saturday Vs. VMI
Feb. 8, 2013
Navy opens up its 106th season of men's lacrosse on Saturday afternoon, when it plays host to VMI ... action is set for 12:00 pm at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.
Saturday's contest will be broadcast over the radio waves by WNAV 1430 AM / 99.9 FM with Pete Medhurst handling the call, beginning with the Navy lacrosse pregame show at 11:45 am ... the game will also be streamed online via Navy All-Access with live stats available at NavySports.com ... this week's All-Access feed will be provided free of charge, however, the remainder of the season will be subscription based.
The Navy-VMI tilt is one of 12 games slated for Saturday in what marks the second weekend of action among the Div. I ranks ... Delaware and High Point officially kicked off the 2012 campaign last Saturday in High Point where the Fightin' Blue Hens topped High Point, 12-10.
Navy is one of five Patriot League teams in action this weekend. #11 Lehigh will play host to Saint Joseph's at 1:00 pm, while Army travels to #12 Massachusetts on Saturday at 1:00 pm, #18 Bucknell heads to Delaware on Saturday at 1:00 pm and #10 Colgate makes its way to Bryant on Saturday at 1:00 pm.
Entering his 14th season as a collegiate head coach, Rick Sowell is in his second season leading the Midshipmen. He directed Navy to a 6-6 record in his inaugural season which featured a 12-11 upset on the road against #12 Colgate and an 8-2 rout over sixth-ranked Johns Hopkins in Annapolis.
Navy returns five starters off last year's team, including its top two scorers junior attack men Tucker Hull and Sam Jones. Hull paced the Mids with 47 points on 23 goals and 24 assist en route to garnering Second-Team All-Patriot League honors, while Jones punched in 18 goals and 13 assists for the Mids.
Also returning to the lineup are midfielders Bryce Dabbs and Pat Durkin. Dabbs, a senior, produced 12 points on nine goals and three assists in his first season playing, while Durkin, a junior, scored 13 goals for Navy.
Senior Austin Miller is the lone starter returning to close defense as he recorded 15 caused turnovers and owned the second-most ground balls with 38 a year ago.
Preseason All-American Pat Kiernan returns for his junior season as one of the nation's best long stick midfielders. Last season he scored seven goals and assisted on three others while causing 14 turnovers and picking up 36 ground balls.
Navy will have new faces at two key positions this spring - goalkeeper and faceoff. Senior team captain Nolan Hickey will likely get the start in Saturday's season-opener against VMI having played in just one game over his career. He has been in a fierce battle with rookie John Connors throughout the off-season. Meanwhile, senior Evan McGoogan will take the bulk of the draws with Kiernan also a proven faceoff man.
Navy owns an 88-15-1 record in season openers, including wins in each of its last 11 dating back to a 16-2 win over Saint Joseph's in 2002 ... the Mids have outscored their foes 140-38 (12.7-3.5) during that stretch of 11 wins.
The Mids have played nine of their last 13 openers at home, including each of the last six ... Navy played its 2004, `05 and `06 openers on the road.
Last year, Navy's Tucker Hull and Sam Jones combined to score 17 points, including 11 goals, as the Mids cruised to a 14-7 victory over VMI in their opener.
Scouting the Keydets
VMI head coach Brian Anken enters his third season in hopes the progression his Keydets made by season's end a year ago will carry over into the start of the 2013 campaign. While VMI finished the season 4-10, the Keydets won three of their final four contests, including an 8-7 victory over Detroit in their season finale.
The Keydets return six of their 10 starters, however three of their top four scorers have graduated leaving senior attackman Russell East as the point man for the offense this season. Keith Long and Drew Leonard led VMI a year ago with 42 and 24 points apiece, while East registered 23 points on 17 goals and six assists.
Perhaps VMI's biggest loss from the previous handful of seasons is faceoff specialist Stephen Robarge, who owned a 66.6 wining percentage and was one of the nation's leaders. The only player on last year's team who returns with any faceoff experience is sophomore Gaston Ledford who was 0-for-3 on draws in 2012.
Returning in goal for the Keydets is senior Matt Lindemann who played in seven contests and posted a 9.54 goals-against average and a 59.9 save percentage.
Navy vs. VMI - The Series
Having met one another in the season opener in each of the last five seasons, Navy holds a 5-0 series advantage against VMI. All five games have been played in Annapolis.
The Midshipmen have scored double digits against the Keydets in each of the five previous meetings, while holding VMI to single digits in all five contests.
VMI has held an advantage in the faceoff column in each of the last four meetings, including winning 15 of the 25 draws a year ago.
Taking the Field In ...
10 Navy has lost just five games (51-5) when scoring 10 or more goals since the start of the 2004 season ... Navy was 5-0 last season when reaching 10 goals.
9 Attackman Sam Jones led all point producers in last year's win with nine on five goals and four assists. His nine points were the most by a Navy player since Dennis Nealon scored 12 (4 goals, 8 assists) against Washington College on March 20, 1991.
8 Eight of Navy's 2013 opponents are ranked or receiving votes in the 2012 USILA Coaches Preseason Poll - #2 Maryland, #4(T) Johns Hopkins, #10 Colgate, #11 Lehigh, #16 Fairfield and #18 Bucknell, while Georgetown and Army are receiving votes.
7 Long pole Pat Kiernan scored seven goals for the Midshipmen a year ago. He enters the season ranked fourth among the nation's active long pole career scorers with 11 points on 8 goals and 3 assists.
6 Navy will play six games at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in 2012 ... the Mids own a 42-19 record (68.9) in games played on their home field since the start of the 2004 campaign, outscoring its foes, 643-440.
5 Navy is 5-0 against VMI and has held the Keydets to eight or fewer goals in each of its five previous meetings.
4 Hull needs four assists to join Navy's all-time top-20 assists list ... he owns 39.
3 With a 756-314-14 record, Navy is the third-winningest program in Div. I men's lax behind Johns Hopkins (924-298-15) and Syracuse (830-320-16).
2 Hull has been held without a point in just two of the 25 games he has played at Navy.
1 Over the last four seasons, 24 (10-14) of the Mids' 72 contests have been decided by one goal.